Monday, October 13, 2014

Day Off at the Safari

Hi All:
We hope you are doing well. I needed to do an update on our mission. Today we took a day off from our office duties. Our mission President and wife planned a senior missionary day off. So Alan and I and the other senior couple took the day off. The mission president was sick and so he and his wife stayed back in Harare for the day. Well  us and the other couple went out on a day safari. We drove to a place called Marondera about 2 hours from our flat. The drive was really beautiful. The other senior couple drives out there every week for church, so they knew a lot about the community. WE went to a place called, IMIRE safari resort. We drove up to the most beautiful resort, oasis area. IT is also a place that you can spend the night. IT was so clean and green and just lush. We had our meeting time, and met our personal guide, and we were off around 10: am. WE were sitting in the back of pickup truck with  lifted bleacher seats, and a canopy top to keep the sun off. WE were off, and hoping to see 4 out of the 5 of the big game here in Zimbabwe. Well, it was worth the money that we paid. We saw a lot of antelopes, small ones and big ones with horns. The best were the elephants. They were incredible and huge. With each stop, the guide brought some food for the animals, so it was sort of a staged animal photo opp. but it was still really neat. Our guide drove us right up to the elephants and we watched them eat, use their trunks to break off limbs to eat and then the older ones would bump tusks with each other. Just so national geographic like.
WE saw giraffes and they came over to the truck, and our driver feed them also. It was funny how they would spread their legs to get close to the food and bend over to eat. Zebras, are interesting. The younger zebras could not come into the circle to eat, for fear of getting kicked in the face by the older zebras. So this herd of Zebras were eating and the cute little zebras were standing afar off. They were really cute and really fuzzy with fur.
WE saw rhinos, they were all guarded with men carrying rifles. The rhinos are an endangered animal in Zimbabwe, poachers will kill them for their horns, so they are guarded 24 hours a day. WE saw 3 black rhinos and they are really huge, really huge.While they were eating then here came a group of warthogs. They are so ugly and they scrounge on everything. When they eat , they kneel on their front legs, like they are begging.  WE also saw 2 white or wide mouth rhinos. They were sleeping under a tree, but their lips are wide and their heads are so much larger than the  other rhinos. They were also guarded with an armed guard. These guards just follow these rhinos around all day and night.
 We have been educated so much on the wild animals of Africa, so much to learn today. The country side of Africa is really beautiful and unique. It will start greening up in the next few months when the rains start.
We drove to this really rocky place, and it was up high so we could see down on the valley to see the  animals. WE ate our first true sodza, not real special. We had a really nice bean salad, and other vegetables. this place was really nice, while we were eating all of a sudden a warthog wanders into our eating area and turns and runs off. WE took our picture near the edge of this big rock mound, our guide told us not to go to far on the rock. He told us that an elephant and cape buffalos were coming up the rocks to come into our eating area. sure enough a guide came first and then this hugh elephant came up the hill behind him and then the buffalos. So awesome to see. This was our photo opp, with the elephant. WE were able to feed the elephant and get right up next to it. Our guide told us that the elephant has never had any children, and it has adopted this herd of cape buffalos. Sure enough it bossed those buffalos around like a real bossy lady. That was really something to see. On our way back to the starting point we saw 2 older larger giraffes just out in the open walking. WE saw a bird, called a Secretary. It was a rather large bird and it just walks in the tall grass looking for snakes. That's it only calling in life, to kill snakes! WE did see a large male lion, in an enclosed area. I asked if there was a female lion, he said that at one point there was a female lioness, but the male lion killed her one day. Just like that! Now he's a lonely old lion.  We also 2 laughing hyiennas. They are really ugly also, with short back legs. They were enclosed also. Apparently there are these animals still wandering the country side, and not in reserves and enclosures. Just hope they keep their distance from our flat. So we saw, elephants, lion, giraffes, rhinos, antelopes many types, warthogs, cape buffaloes, monkeys, oh yes a crocodile, and many zebras. I believe it was really worth every penny. So if you'd like to come for a visit, we'll make a reservation and take any one there.
Enough of the  tourist stuff. Sister Cook took me shopping yesterday to a place called, Avondale. It was a shopping place like something you'd see on a cruise stop. The people here are not as pushy as other areas, but the shops are still the same. I don't know where they get the same stuff to sell in every shop. It must be the junk clearing house some where in Africa. Not much for shopping here yet. Last night we went out to dinner for our anniversary. WE tried a Chinese restaurant that was across the city. WE had to drive through rush hour and that was nervous for me. So many people just walking on the streets and out in the streets waiting for a bus home. The food was good, but then we had to drive back across, in the dark. I was really glad we made it home and safely.
The mission work is rolling forward. The office missionaries were having a party today in the office, because no older adults were in there today. Hope it's still in one piece when we get back there on Monday.
How are all of you? Russ and Christine, how are you guys getting a long? Is there a place in Philadelphia yet? WE hope there is something that will come available soon. I see pictures of fall colored leaves in Elk Ridge. Lou, did you get the cushions off the outside chairs yet? Hope there are not any bears in Pine Mountain any more. WE do love you all. We have a very busy week, Elder Cook is coming on the 17th. We are on High alert here, so I do hope all  will go well with our planning for these events.
I'm sure you all get tired of me talking about this mission, but it's all we do, day in and day out. Dad is loving every minute of life here, just hope he doesnt' think about extending his time here. WE are doing our best with the branch that we go to. It is struggling with members, but they do have strong testimonies and love the gospel. WE pray that you're all healthy and doing well. We love your pictures and comments on facebook and emails. You are all in our prayers and thoughts always. Have a great week, and enjoy the cooler weather for me. We've not been able to listen and watch conference yet. I know the lord has blessed us with so many tender mercies. Every time I get discouraged, there is someone sent to cheer me up. Or we read a letter and we keep going. When I was driving with Sister Cook, we noticed how beautiful the jacaranda trees are. They hang over the roads on both sides and it is like this for miles in any direction. Another tender mercy. Conference statements are tender mercies, they uplifting and helpful each day. Well, we love you all, hope you are all doing well. So grateful for our families. We love you so much and are thankful for your love and support.
Love MOM

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